MARS HILL, N.C. -- Junior Deion Lane led four Crusaders in double figures with 19 points and Jacob Wilson hit four key free throws in the final 1:13, including a pair that broke a 74-74 tie, lifting Belmont Abbey to an 80-77 come-from-behind victory over Wingate Saturday night in the Tipoff Classic.
The Crusaders outscored Wingate 14-5 over the final 6:07, taking its first lead of the contest with just 2:58 to play. In fact, the Abbey held the lead for just 1:40 of the game.
Trailing by six, 72-66, Ben Ferguson hit back-to-back threes to even the game. An offensive foul and defensive stop on the next two Wingate possessions set up a layup by Lane that capped the 8-0 run and put the Crusaders up 74-72. A pair of free throws retied the game, but Wilson hit both free throws after a WU technical, then hit a layup for a four-point advantage with 55 seconds left. A three-pointer brought the Bulldogs back to within one, but Wilson sealed the victory with two more from the charity stripe with four seconds to play.
Belmont Abbey (1-1) trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, 22-11 at the 6:18 mark, but used a pair of 5-0 runs to close to within 1, 32-31, with just under a minute to go. Wingate tallied the final basket of the period, sending the Bulldogs to the locker room with a three-point lead.
A 14-6 run over the first 2:57 of the second half pushed the Wingate advantage back to 11, 48-37, but three straight threes by Troy Henderson, Drexler Clark and Lane closed the gap to two. The lead immediately went back to nine before another Belmont Abbey rally. The Crusaders pulled even at 64-64, but the Bulldogs answered with an 8-2 run. From there, it was almost all Crusaders.
Belmont Abbey outshot Wingate 45.2 percent to 43.5 percent, and hit five more three-pointers, 13-8. The Bulldogs held a 40-36 advantage on the boards and forced one more turnovers.
The Crusaders return to action on Wednesday for the home opener. Tusculum visits the Wheeler Center for a 7 p.m. start.